According to the book “Die Geskiedenis van Boerekos 1652 – 1806” the word biscuit was borrowed from the French, meaning “twice baked”. Round balls of dough are closely packed in pans and baked like bread, after which long chunks are cut or broken off and slowly rebaked to a dry consistency.
Rusks have been dried in South Africa since the late 1690s as way of preserving bread, especially when travelling long distances without refrigeration. Their use continued through the Great Trek and the Boer Wars through to the modern day.
Today ‘beskuit’ takes the best of the past and combines it with our aspirations for the future… a true South African icon binding together cultural groups!
So let the baking and ‘dunking’ begin…
Ma’s Buttermilk Rusks (Ina Paarman) – Makes ± 70 chunky rusks
My mother’s quick and easy signature recipe. She always baked it in her black oven roasting pan and left it to stand until the next day, before cutting and drying.
- 250 g butter
- 1 cup (250 ml) oil
- 2 cups (400 g) sugar
- 2 extra large eggs
- 2 cups (500 ml) buttermilk
- 6½ cups (1 kg) cake flour
- 2 T (30 ml) baking powder
- 1 t (5 ml) salt
- 1 cup (150 g) whole wheat flour
- 3 cups (750 ml) All Bran Flakes
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
Butter a 37 cm x 28 cm oven roasting pan and line the base with baking paper. Melt the butter in a large mixing bowl in the microwave on high for 1 minute. Add the oil and the sugar and beat with an electric beater or whisk until milky. Add the eggs one by one. Add the buttermilk and beat well.
Sift the cake flour, baking powder and salt together. Add and mix in the whole wheat flour and All Bran. Add the buttermilk mixture. Stir with a strong wooden spoon until evenly blended.
Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and level the top. Bake for 1 hour. Allow to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Turn out, cover with a cloth and leave to stand for at least 10 hours.
Cut into rusks. A serrated bread knife or electric knife works best. Pack the rusks out in a single layer on large baking sheets.
Dry out at 100°C for ± 2-3 hours. Store in an airtight container with layers of greaseproof paper in-between.